I’ve been obsessed with ant behavior since I was a kid (see BE THE ANT: PART I). There seems to be no end to their capabilities. So much so, engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GT) have been studying ants, too. These researchers have developed extraordinary insights into some of these behaviors. And I see many parallels between ant awesomeness and human team performance. Today, let’s look at the ability to flow between two states: Solid to Fluid.
Of the many special properties the GT researchers have documented, one of the most extraordinary is ants’ ability to switch modes and exhibit attributes of both solid or fluid material depending on the challenge they face. This flexibility, or dual mode, echoes what I have observed in high performing teams.
In the summary video above, you will see how ants work together to build bridges and towers with their bodies to escape or overcome obstacles, they build rafts to survive floods, and they can absorb external pressures by bonding together in sponge-like or spring-like structures. I am not suggesting that we try to mimic these ants special physical properties, no, that sounds painful!
I am suggesting, though, that if we consider parallel capabilities in our mental, emotional, and social interactions at work and in team contexts, we might just discover our hidden super powers to change our ways of collaborative working to better suit our ever-changing contexts. If you accept the analogy to ant behaviors, it may still be unclear how teams can achieve such nimbleness at work. That’s where team formation and development comes in.
If you wish your teams had the superpowers of the fire ants in this study, I can help through accelerated team formation, norming, and performing exercises and coaching. Setup an intake call with me and let’s talk about how your team can be more like ants!